Meaning of happiness: A qualitative inquiry among adolescents

Naina Kapoor, Shifa Rahman, Tejinder Kaur


Research on happiness seems to be blooming in current academics. Psychology's engagement with
psychopathology left no space for this concept to come to the fore. With rapid changes in the academic world,
together with the shift in the focus towards more positive concepts has resulted in a renewed interest in the concept
of happiness. The domain of qualitative research seeks to explore the diverse human experiences and the present
study uses this domain to understand the subjective meaning of happiness in adolescent students. Using a qualitative
approach, twenty adolescents were asked to share their life experiences using a semi structured interview schedule.
A grounded theory analysis revealed that happiness forms a core concern for an individual where it depends not only
on the cultural norm involving an individual where social relationships form an important part, but also goals and
aims (s) he/she wishes to achieve in life. It exists in temporality but is impacted by the larger dimension of meaning
in life which is relatively stable and covers a huge expanse of an individual's existence. Finding happiness in life
involves both personal goals such as self growth and attainment of peace, and also professional goals like fulfilment
of one's academic aim. Happiness is also seen as being impacted by an individual's past happenings, belief in selfworth
and social responsibility. Analysis of the findings thus points to the fact that meaning of happiness varies
across individuals, however, the essence remains the same for a given culture. The consideration of the emic
approach not only creates sound knowledge, but also leads to a holistic understanding of human affairs.


happiness, adolescents, qualitative research, meaning in life, purpose in life, life experiences

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